Tuesday, June 5, 2007

‪י״ט סיון תשס״ז * 5 June 2007: Festival of Popular Delusions Day


Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing was submitted by a very large cat made of metal that showed up at my door. After dropping off the submission, it proceeded to scratch up the furniture and then curled up on the sofa and went to sleep. The cat is still here, having slept most of the time but occasionally waking up to climb on top of me before going back to sleep. It has big metal claws, and I do not feel up to arguing with it.

Transformers: Identity Crisis

Week 3: Ratchet/Schaltklinke

Greetings, people of Earth.

As is now being commonly reported, among the people in the area where Optimus Prime was scanning was a former United States Air Force officer named Marissa Jaye Faireborn. According to one anonymous source, Faireborn, who was recently discharged and has moved to Washington, DC, was previously assigned to work with Optimus and that their relationship was friendly. Optimus continues to maintain he was working with authorization, trying to protect people from an unspecified “terrorist threat,” and that Faireborn being there was a coincidence. Several important members of Congress have begun openly complaining of their country’s relationship with the Autobots and are calling for an investigation. We welcome this questioning, which is long overdue. Some protests suggesting that the United States get rid of “illegal aliens,” however, can be done without.

As previously mentioned in earlier communications, the movie, like other previous media, doubtlessly portrays a conflict between the “heroic” Autobots and the “evil Decepticons.” As before, little is said about what the groups believe or why they are fighting, the only obvious difference being that the Autobots are nicer to the humans than the “Decepticons.” The actual conflict, despite the consistent propaganda, is much different.

Words such as “Decepticon” or “Destron” are not what we call ourselves; they are terms the Autobots call outsiders, much like many terms of abuse the humans may use for each other. We are all Cybertonians, and the differences between the Autobots and the rest of our kind, physically at least, are minimal or nonexistent. It is more a matter of how they relate with others.

The government of Cybertron is a democracy, with the goal of giving every Cybertonian equal access and representation in the rule of law. Such a government requires that all have mutual respect for each other and allow each other to live in peace. When there are disputes or desires for change, these must be handled peacefully, civilly, and legally. This is the spirit of the statement made by one of your own kind “that all men [humans?] are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This is not the way of the Autobots, who descend from families which were aristocratic before the founding of the current government. Although they were forced to work within the system, many never accepted the notion of equality. They believed themselves “superior” to everyone else, created by their god Primus to rule the Universe. Their methods for controlling others frequently included threats, intimidation, and more serious coercive means. Many Autobots faced serious legal consequences for their actions: the prominent religious leader Emirate Xaaron was convicted and sentenced for treason, while Alpha Trion, president of an important corporation, was found guilty of the murders of several “Decepticons.” With increased scrutiny, a conspiracy to overthrow the legitimate democratic government of one province was detected, and the most elite Autobots were forced to flee the planet.

“You break it, I’ll remake it.”

This does not mean that all Autobots are identical. One, Ratchet, has often been at odds with his kind. Ratchet, known as “Schaltklinke” to the Nazis, has often been slow to change. Although he has often been depicted as the equivalent of a medical doctor, he is more of a paramedic and technician with a particular skill at reformatting, the adapting of bodies to create new vehicular or humanoid forms. Once formatted to transform into an Opel Blitz ambulance, he kept the form long after it looked antique to humans, refusing to become what he described as “a dirty lorry”; he kept the form until he became a Nissan C60 Vanette simultaneously with Ironhide, a form he has kept up to this writing even as Ironhide updated.

Ratchet in Nazi Germany

His other behavior has often been similarly inertial. From his earliest recorded moments on Earth he was reported to be among the most hard-line proponents of the Autobot cause. His disdain for humans was extreme, often calling them “dirty wet char blobs” and refusing to work with them. Somewhat lacking in tact, he had to be instructed to be silent during interactions with humans to prevent him from embarrassing or offending them. As World War II turned against the Axis powers, the Autobot leadership became concerned about their safety and began searching for a new protector nation. Although it was suggested that Ratchet be sent to the Soviet Union, possibly because he was thought expendable, he ended up traveling though Vichy France where, following the Battle of Normandy, he somehow contacted James McCullen, XXIII, an officer in the British Royal Air Force. McCullen was no ordinary pilot; he was independently wealthy, the owner a large estate in the Scottish highlands which had been in his family for generations. The arrangement was simple: The Autobots would be moved to his estate, where in turn they would work for him. Returning, the Autobots took the offer and made it out of Berlin by the end of 1944. It is theorized they were repainted and passed off as staff cars before being smuggled to Great Britain, but there is no firm information. Before Germany was defeated, most of the Autobots were secluded in his private estate, tended by McCullen’s staff and his young son, James “Jimmy” McCullen, XXIV. It was there that the Autobots began to understand their true potential on Earth, but also that Jimmy learned the true potential of the Autobots.

Our informants indicate that Jimmy spent a considerable amount of time among the Autobots, particularly Ratchet. Part of this was to further his education; Ratchet persisted in speaking German long after the other Autobots were fluently speaking English. (He frequently griped that humans should settle on one language.) More importantly, from Ratchet’s rambling complaints and recollections as he helped rebuild his comrades, Jimmy absorbed many Autobot beliefs: a mystical view of a universe full of unseen essences fashioned by an all-powerful god, a select few fated to rule over the masses of worthless inferiors, and a certainty that one is part of this destined few. Marking himself as one of the elite, these Autobot ideas influenced Jimmy in ways that would change the planet.

While the Autobots have been working in the United States, Ratchet’s primary function has been reformatting, both by full-body upgrades and the production of removable exterior plates. With the employment of Autobots in military operations for the United States, this has been a full-time job, even with the assistance of other medic Autobots such as First Aid and Hoist. An additional constraint on his time has been his assisting human scientists, which he is ill prepared-for. Despite ample evidence that our kind was invented by the Quintessons, the Autobots staunchly believe that, as arranged by the god Primus, they evolved from naturally occurring gears and thus constitute an expression of the substance of the universe itself. Additionally, despite excellent documentation of our physiology and the basis of our intelligent behavior, the Autobots insist that they live and think because they contain an animating “spark” with magical properties. The habit of believing only what they want to be true and ignoring evidence has seriously impeded them in developing their medical care, as well as misleading human scientists trying to understand their functioning; considerable effort has been wasted in such projects as trying to transfer part of a “spark” to a nonfunctioning vehicle. It is worth mentioning that no Autobots were involved in designing or building the spaceship they stole and flew to Earth; while benefitting from the learning of others, they nevertheless reject the fundamental basics of how to obtain that learning.

Our next communication will concern Elita One, the only one of the Autobot inner circle to not be represented in the film. Until then, we wish you well.

Soundwave, Cybertonian Communicator.

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